MONA is at once an alternative to the corrupt siphoning of taxes to fund the unpopular preferences and prejudices of the art cliques, an exquisite example of the banality and incoherence of postmodernism, as well as being a very quirky and very entertaining amusement park for the pretentious.
I would love to see the rapid re-orientation of arts funding in Australia towards support for startups only. But because the international "level playing field" is a complete fantasy for the present (and the future), we need targeted assistance for business startups. This is just as true for the arts business as it is for any other business. The problem arises because recipients of this assistance often become addicted to the public teet and organise lobby groups of the loud and powerful to agitate for continued and increasing succor. In Australia, we thus have a severely distorted unfree market. Every business from Ford Motor Company to the Victorian Opera Company - and of course all those galleries - is propped up with money extorted from the taxpayers. Many arts businesses recognise their permanent alienation from the public and are shocked at any suggestion that they should plan to be self-funding in the future. Their supporters consider it outrageous to suggest that individuals should be able to be freely choose which art or artist they support. They believe that funding must be extracted from the unwilling in perpetuum through taxation.
Indicators of what art would be freely supported in our rapidly decaying culture are plain to see throughout "popular" culture. Arts lobbies use the debauched taste of the masses as a rationale for their undemocratic decision-making as well as their demands for mandatory funding.
The eclectic taste of MONA's owner is close enough to this incoherent search for novelty coupled with its self-defeating search for shock value, that it brings respectable crowds from across Australia where the galleries parasitic on the public purse are comparatively unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, scattered through MONA are (usually less popular) pearls whose creators, probably nurtured through public funding, have actually made a real sale to a rich guy, and now get exhibited in MONA. They are thus proved more worthy than any winner of an arts prize in most of the cliques controlled competitions around Australia. Their sales success marks possibly their first step towards actually standing on their own two feet. I hope that other artists use their future energies to sell their work to an art lover, rather than just join the army of lobbyists for government handouts.
"MONA is the art of the exhausted, of a decaying civilisation. Display lights and taste and stunning effects illuminate moral bankruptcy. What is highlighted melds perfectly with contemporary high fashion, design, architecture, cinema. It is expensive and tense decay. For the uncomprehending, uncritical, unmoved tourists it is meaningless matter superbly showcased—though if you threw out the art and put in a (gay) wedding expo, a psychic convention or a showing of hot rods they probably wouldn’t even notice, or care." MONA’s Brutal Banality